Good Quality Sharp Drill bits

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,304
Northern NH
I had a minor project today mounting a new bench vise. I have steel plate mounted on a work bench to spread the load of the vise over a larger area. I had a piece of crap chinese vise that finally self destructed so I picked up a returned reversible Wilton Vise that was listed on Amazon Warehouse. Its bolt pattern was different from my previous vice so I needed to drill the plate. Ideally it would be easier to use my drill press but removing the plate from the bench would have taken longer so I hand drilled and tapped the holes. I picked up a drill index of Irwin cobalt steel drill bits last year after dealing with cheap drill bits for several projects. Someone had given me a gift at one point of Harbor Freight "titanium" coated drill bits. They were just about useless for drilling steel so I was using an assortment of older drill bits in various states of sharpness. Using the new Irwin bits I cranked out the holes with a hand held drill and even got the classic curls of steel which indicate sharp bits. Once the holes went it, I tapped them out for 1/2" threads and was done in 15 minutes.

Every time I use this new set I look back at all the fighting I had done previous using dull drill bits. I long ago used to hand sharpen drill bits but rarely did I get the angles right and even if I did they didnt keep their edges. I think a lot folks take drill bits for granted but there is a big difference between cheap bits (even if they have the flashed on titanium nitride coating) and good quality bits made with a proper alloy steel.
 
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MTASH

Member
Dec 24, 2018
105
Montana
I have a set of DeWalt pilot tip bits and they've been the best I've ever owned for steel. Not sure how I'll ever sharpen them though.
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
896
Palmyra, WI
Years ago I was at a rural consignment auction. People could bring in whatever, auction it all off - loads of hay, machinery, garden eq., tree stands, - everything. There was a wagon load of new in the box tools selling. There was a crowd around, but I thought why not, so I bid on a few. Didn't look real close. Figured if they lasted through a remodel, so be it. Got them home - the hammer heads pinged off on the first hit, pliers snapped, drill bits were soft with a stamped cutting edge. They went cheap, and I was foolish enough to bite. Why do some things need to be learned the hard way. Maybe because we expect better, and are dismayed when it aint so. It was a cheap lesson to learn - how could anybody sell junk like that, or, more to the point, how could I be foolish enough not to pass on junk like that.
 

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,481
WI, Leroy
free hand grinding of drill bits takes lots of practice. a system that is fairly easy to do and make a quick jig for is called " four facet" grinding I will refer you to the wide web world for more information on this.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,304
Northern NH
If I really get desperate I have 70 plus years old slow speed wet grinder in my garage. In a pinch I have done it on belt sander. I used to be in practice one summer during a summer job. I got paid 40 hours a week to drill holes in berylium copper alloy castings. It was nasty stuff, the holes were #44 and in a shift I might go through 100 plus drill bits. I set the salvageable ones aside and would sharpen them. We had diamond wheel grinders.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,147
Northern Maine
I've drilled more holes than I ever care to think about in some nasty metals. Good quality 135 degree split points in cobalt are the only thing to look for.
Then again proper drill speed and a good cutting oil are essential or your just wasting time and money.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,725
South Puget Sound, WA
I've drilled more holes than I ever care to think about in some nasty metals. Good quality 135 degree split points in cobalt are the only thing to look for.
Then again proper drill speed and a good cutting oil are essential or your just wasting time and money.
I'm with you. We built two steel sailing yachts. Without those cobalt bits, cutting oil and a cool electro-magnetic base portable drill press by Milwaukee the work would have been a nightmare.
I just stumbled on a website by the owners of the second boat. It sold again now and is back in NW waters
 
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Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,147
Northern Maine
I'm with you. We built two steel sailing yachts. Without those cobalt bits, cutting oil and a cool electro-magnetic base portable drill press by Milwaukee the work would have been a nightmare.
I just stumbled on a website by the owners of the second boat. It sold again now and is back in NW waters
There's this funny thing called speeds and feeds that we were taught as freshmen in HS machine shop. While it is rather slow for the real world it clearly was a starting spot to learn from. Chip load and surface speed of the cutting tool was a lot more important providing you could get enough coolant (oil) to the tool. Nerve killing days was working with end mills of .025 diameter or smaller. At times I didn't even know if I broke it or not for a few thousands of movement all the time feeding it by hand.
Being mostly a prototype and small lot machinist I got to play with an awful lot of strange metals in the late 70's and most of the 80's.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,304
Northern NH
I found out later that machining beryllium copper is nasty stuff. I was drilling it but did do some grinding, luckily it looks like I didnt get the lung damage.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,147
Northern Maine
I found out later that machining beryllium copper is nasty stuff. I was drilling it but did do some grinding, luckily it looks like I didnt get the lung damage.
I started in the microwave end of machining in HS. Worked with all sorts of it in castings, rod stock and wave guide. I machined thousands of pounds of that stuff in small lot production at my first job but we never did any grinding of it. Learned a lot in that job that helped me in a big way until I left the trade.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,017
NE Ohio
free hand grinding of drill bits takes lots of practice. a system that is fairly easy to do and make a quick jig for is called " four facet" grinding I will refer you to the wide web world for more information on this.
I did a quick search, didn't see anything I was too impressed with...have any particular suggestions?
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,147
Northern Maine
I did a quick search, didn't see anything I was too impressed with...have any particular suggestions?
I don't know how a homeowner could sharpen 135 degree drills. Now 118 degree drills are easy as is thinning the web on larger sizes. That said I have drills sets and loose drills for hacking random stuff.
I also have a complete drill index containing number, letter and fractional that is only used on my Bridgeport milling machine that does not leave my workshop.

MSC Industrial Supply Co. is a good place for cutting tools. You get the options of quality and if you want import or USA made.
 

zrock

Minister of Fire
Dec 2, 2017
852
bc
I just use my drill doctor on any bit i have crap or not... get them nice and sharp and use a good quality cutting oil and they stay sharp for a long time..
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,017
NE Ohio
My only issue with the Drill Doctor is it doesn't do very good on small bits...I stopped even trying on anything under 1/4"
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
4,222
Downeast Maine
My only issue with the Drill Doctor is it doesn't do very good on small bits...I stopped even trying on anything under 1/4"
Are they really worth it? I just watched the promo on mute and it seems too good to be true.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,017
NE Ohio
Are they really worth it? I just watched the promo on mute and it seems too good to be true.
They do work pretty darn well on 1/4" - 3/4" bits...although it takes some time to do the larger bits if you really FUBAR one...not sure what they cost these days, and if the price is worth it or not...probably can be bought "used once" on FB MP or Ebay commonly enough...
 

MTY

Feeling the Heat
Jan 9, 2019
346
Idaho
I bought a Lisle a few years back. Not good for small bits, but other than that a pleasure to use.
 

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,481
WI, Leroy
one of best small form factor units were the Black Diamond units- pricy. I do not know if they are still being made but there is support for the original units. Mine runs from 3/8" down my other unit goes from apx 3/8" to 3.5"
 

gzecc

Minister of Fire
Sep 24, 2008
4,666
NNJ
I just had great success with Milwaukee hard steel bits. I was drilling into stainless steel and was having no luck with my existing bits. Milwaukee bits went through nicely.
 
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